Sunday 12 July 2020

13 people lost an eye in firework frenzy, Rotterdam moves for a total ban

Fireworks caused millions of euros worth of damage.Photo: Depositphotos.com

A total of 168 people saw a specialist after a firework-related injury during the recent New Year celebrations, and 13 people have ended up blind in one eye, according to figures from the Dutch eye specialist association NOG.

Almost half the victims were injured by firework set off by someone else and 65% were hit by legal fireworks.

The NOG, which is campaigning for a total ban on consumer fireworks, has been keeping injury records since 2008 and says the number of accidents has been going up since 2017.

Meanwhile, Rotterdam is aiming to be the first of the four big cities in the Netherlands to ban fireworks altogether, apart from organised displays. There is now majority support within the council for an outright ban, and even the right-wing VVD supports the plan.

Every year fireworks lead to major problems, injuries and an ‘atmosphere of lawlessness’ in some parts of the port city, the local VVD branch says.

The national party has not yet voiced support for a ban, although parliamentary party leader Klaas Dijkhoff said on Tuesday he is not ‘deaf and blind’ to the problems the firework frenzy causes.

Nationwide ban

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told a local broadcaster that he would prefer a nationwide ban, which would mean the sale of fireworks would also be illegal.

There is now majority support in parliament for a ban on rockets and firecrackers.

Two people died and almost 1,300 people were treated for firework-related injuries, according to public safety research group VeiligheidNL. Of them, 385 were helped at hospital accident and emergency departments. Police chiefs and safety experts have all called on parliament to get tough on fireworks or bring in a total ban.

Insurance companies have put the damage to private homes and cars at €15m.

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